UH, Queen’s Receive $2.3M to Study Liver Cancer

August 24, 2011, 10:33 AM HST · Updated August 24, 10:33 AM

By Sonia Isotov

Two scientists from the University of Hawaii Cancer Center and The Queen’s Medical Center have received a five-year $2.3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study liver cancer detection.

Gordon Okimoto, Ph.D., a research scientist at the UH Cancer Center, and Sandy Kwee, M.D., director of positron emission tomography (PET) research at The Queen’s Medical Center, will lead the collaborative study.

“By improving our ability to detect liver disease and cancer at an earlier stage, we can greatly reduce deaths and improve patient outcomes,” said Kwee, in a written statement.

Okimoto also added that “competition for federal funding of cancer research is intense, and we are fortunate to receive this award.  This grant represents collaborative research at its best and showcases the high level of science that we are conducting here in Hawaii.” 

Researchers will utilize imaging system known as positron emission tomography, or PET, to measure the levels of specific molecules in the body that have the potential to detect the presence of liver cancer. Additionally, researchers will profile global gene expression patterns in cancer-prone and normal tissue samples obtained from the imaged liver and create a catalog of novel cancer-related molecules that may aid in the early detection of liver cancer and serve as drug targets for the personalized treatment of the disease. 

The University of Hawaii Cancer Center is one of 66 research institutions designated by the National Cancer Institute.  Affiliated with the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the Center is dedicated to eliminating cancer through research, education and improved patient care. The building of a new state-of-the-art research center is currently underway, and is projected to open in early 2013. 


The Queen’s Medical Center is an acute care medical facility which houses 505 acute beds and 28 sub-acute beds and is widely known for its programs in cancer, cardiovascular disease, neuroscience, orthopaedics, surgery, emergency medicine and trauma, and behavioral medicine. Queen’s is home to a number of residency programs offered in conjunction with the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii.  



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